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LeEco Le Pro3 review: Excellent hardware, affordable price, obtrusive software and services

  • Editors' rating
    8.1 Excellent
  • $399.00

Pros

  • High quality aluminum unibody design
  • Latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor
  • Stunning battery life with 4,070 mAh capacity
  • Low price, especially with $100 coupon offer
  • Decent stereo speakers

Cons

  • Excessive LeEco bloatware and services
  • No headphone jack

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted my first impressions of the LeEco Le Pro3. LeEco put too much effort into forcing you to use its ecosystem, but if you can get over this and be satisfied with a third party launcher there is a lot to like for $399.

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There are several great Android candidates in the $400 or less price range and while the Le Pro3 leads with some very compelling internal specifications, the software experience can be confusing. This is not a stock Android experience like you find on Lenovo Moto products or the BlackBerry DTEK60. I quickly installed the Google Now launcher and with this as your primary interface, it is easy to bypass all of the LeEco ecosystem apps and utilities.

LeEco appears to be pushing too hard to get people to subscribe to all of the LeEco services and without a track record for value add, there is no way I am allowing access to all of my personal information or subscribing to unknown services.

While I am not a marketing expert, I find the LeEco Le Pro3 name a deterrent to adoption as well. Is it a French company? What does the name mean and what's the proper pronunciation? Is it LEEKO, LE ECHO, LECHO, or what?

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution LCD, 403 ppi
  • Operating system: LeEco EUI built upon Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64 GB internal storage
  • Cameras: 16 megapixel rear camera with OIS and 8 megapixel front facing camera
  • Wireless technology: NFC, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/29/20/28
  • Other features: Dual stereo speakers, infrared transmitter
  • Battery: 4,070 mAh battery with Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0 technology
  • Dimensions: 151.4 x 73.9 x 7.5 mm and 177 grams

As you can see, the Le Pro3 has the newest Qualcomm processor, ample RAM and internal storage, a massive capacity battery, and good specifications. It's not lacking at all in the hardware department.

Hardware

The aluminum unibody design with beveled edges and brushed aluminum look is fantastic. The fit and finish challenges flagship-level smartphones and you won't believe what you get for $399. The back edges are curved into the sides so it fits well in your hand and it feels as strong as a tank.

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The Corning Gorilla Glass 3 panel covers the entire front and transitions nicely into the sides. The front facing camera and sensors are located to either side of the headset speaker, which also serves as one of the stereo speakers.

In a break from what we see on today's Android smartphones, LeEco has three capacitive buttons down in the bezel below the display. They are arranged, from left to right, for the task switcher/command center, home button, and back button. Samsung fans will like the back button on the right, but I hear more complaints about that than anything so this may be a concern for some folks.

The power button is centered on the right with the volume button positioned above it. The nanoSIM card slot is found on the upper left side. An IR port and microphone opening are on top. The secondary stereo speaker is on the bottom with the USB Type-C port. There is no 3.5mm headphone jack on the Le Pro3.

The camera and dual LED flash are placed near the top of the back with the shiny mirror finish fingerprint scanner below it. There are a couple of antenna lines/breaks in the back panel too. The LeEco logo is positioned in the center near the bottom of the back.

The Le Pro3 is currently only available in gold with a gray color shown as coming soon. I did not attend the launch event so haven't seen the gray model, but the gold version looks great. It's interesting that the back appears to be brushed aluminum, but has a smooth glossy finish.

Battery life has been stunning, thanks to the 4,070 mAh large capacity and 1080p display. For the last couple of weeks I have been able to easily go a couple of days with fairly heavy usage between charges. Unlike some other Android smartphones from OnePlus and Lenovo, the Le Pro3 supports that standard Quick Charge 3 technology so you can top off quickly with a compatible USB Type-C charger.

The stereo speakers sound great and in my comparison with other phones with stereo speakers, including the HTC 10, iPhone 7 Plus, and BlackBerry DTEK60, the speakers on the Le Pro3 provide a great experience. They are louder than the HTC 10 and iPhone 7 Plus, but do get blown out a bit at maximum volume.

I've taken a few comparison photos, check out the full resolution samples in my Flickr album, and the camera performs fine. It's not going to challenge the iPhone 7, Galaxy S7, or Google Pixel, but it should meet the needs for most people that share pictures on social networks.

Software

The LeEco Le Pro3 runs the Ecosystem User Interface (EUI), based on Android 6 Marshmallow. I've had no problem with alternative user interfaces such as Samsung TouchWiz, Huawei Emotion UI, or others, but the EUI is too focused on feeding LeEco ecosystem content to the user. The default EUI makes the center on screen button launch the LIVE app. The LeEco Live services button cannot be moved or changed in the default EUI launcher. With the Google Now launcher installed you can put any apps or folders you want along the bottom row of the display.

When you press the LIVE button you are immediately switched into landscape orientation and presented with a screen of video content. There isn't much content available yet with seven TV show channels, five movie channels, five lifestyle channels (Food Network and HGTV included), four sports channels, and eight add-on premium channels. Keep in mind, this is live streaming content from around the internet. You also have the ability to replay past content, which is handy when you want to watch a movie that already played.

If you enjoy video content, there looks to be a lot provided here by LeEco and I did enjoy watching some older movies and shows. I'm not sure about the future content and the plan for the latest and greatest films and TV shows, but it's an interesting ecosystem to explore.

There is also a subscription EcoPass, at least I think it's different than the LIVE subscription, with content purchased with EcoPoints. You will also find LeCloud storage for storing content, LeVidi that looks to be a YouTube alternative, an Eco warranty offer for two years of support, and LeMall privileges. There is duplication with Google services and an experience that is just way too confusing and obtrusive.

I did not sign up for the LeCloud option because it attempts to sync your contacts, messages, call history, browser history, WiFi access points, photos, videos, and more. I'm not about to sync and store this kind of personal content up to a server who I have no history with and that may not be secure. We just heard of Android smartphones sharing data with China and although I've given up hope for much privacy on the internet, I'm not about to consciously share my most intimate information with a service I know nothing about or even whether it will be around in a few months.

While the LeEco ecosystem utilities and services are prevalent on the Le Pro3, you can easily install third party launchers and ignore much of that experience. I installed the Google Now launcher and am satisfied with using the device daily. Pressing and holding the center LeEco logo center button launches Google Now or Google Now On Tap, whichever you have setup.

The task switcher is a bit interesting on the Le Pro3 and is labeled the Control Center. You can customize what appears on the top of the Control Center in the settings with the bottom containing thumbnails of your running applications. I like the functionality of the Control Center and the fact that it is separate from the notifications shade that you pull down from the top.

Pressing and holding the control center, left, button launches the home screen settings. Pressing and holding the back, right, button turns off the display.

I just received an update for the Le Pro3, that is very encouraging, that includes the October 2016 Android security patch and the ability to now use Android Pay with the Le Pro3. We will see if LeEco can keep up with regular Android security updates and possibly even provide an Android 7 Nougat update in the near future.

There are a couple unique options in the settings menu so that you can customize your experience. I like that you can switch the scale view, dpi, of the display quickly and easily. I don't mind 1080p displays, but I want to be able to change the dpi so I can see more information on the display. This is not easy to do on the OnePlus 3 or Honor 8, while it's a simple toggle on the Le Pro3.

Pricing and competition

The LeEco Le Pro3 is priced at $399, but we have also seen a couple of flash sales where you can purchase it for $299. At the $299 price, you won't find another Android smartphone with these specifications or performance.

In the $400 or less affordable Android smartphone market we see great choices with the OnePlus 3, Honor 8, and Moto G4 Play. These brands have built up more of a following than LeEco and offer a more stock experience.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

As we have seen with Huawei, Honor, Xiaomi, Sony, and others it is tough to be successful in the US smartphone market without major marketing and direct support from US carriers. The recent financial challenges facing LeEco doesn't help build confidence in the brand or ecosystem either as good as the hardware is and as low as the device is priced.

If you are willing to install a launcher such as the Google Now launcher and ignore all of the LeEco apps, utilities, and services on the phone then it is a compelling piece of hardware. If you are looking to explore a new content provider and want to watch some older shows or live content on your phone, then you may love the Le Pro3.

The battery life is incredible and the device performs very well. Despite the 1080p display, you can change the scale, dpi, so that it is much better to work with than 1080p displays you see on devices like the OnePlus 3 or Honor 8. Overall, I was very impressed with the hardware and performance of the device, especially if you can snag it with the $100 off coupon.

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